France Demand Recovered in 2020


Lubricant sales in France in 2020 were virtually unchanged from the previous year, according to new data from an industry association, as volumes consistently ran ahead of 2019 during the second half of the year to catch up from the cratering of last spring.

Last year’s sales in the European Union’s second-largest lube market reached 523,909 metric tons, up from 523,108 tons in 2019.

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In addition to reporting demand for December, the Professional Lubricants Center’s latest statistics also include revised monthly figures from earlier in 2020. The revisions increased sales for each month by roughly 4,000 metric tons, or approximately 10%.

Based on the revised figures, the market began 2020 by running ahead of 2019 in January and February. Then the COVID-19 pandemic struck Europe, triggering the most stringent countermeasures. From March through May, lube demand in France ran 10%, 38% and 24% behind the same months of 2019. Monthly volume bottomed out in April at 29,419 tons.

Sales ranged from 9%-15% higher than 2019 for six of the final seven months of 2020, the exception being July, when demand was down 1% year to year.

Sales of automotive lubricants fell 2% in 2020 to 275,017, the Paris-based association reported. Industrial lube volumes dipped 6% to 188,544 tons. Demand for process oils, meanwhile, jumped 46% to 60,348 tons.

The country consumed 41,115 tons of finished lubricants in December, up from 36,767 during the same month of 2019. Sales of automotive lubricants for that month declined 3% to 20,221 tons, while sales in the industrial segment – not including process oils – increased 9% to 16,325 tons, according to revised data. Process oil volumes jumped 42% to 4,569 tons.

For the full year, France’s lubricant sales decreased to 523,909 tons. Automotive lubricant sales fell 7.5% to 275,017 tons, while industrial lubricants – not including process soils – slid 8% to 188,544 tons. Process oil volumes increased 15% to 60,348 tons in 2020.

In 2020, demand for engine oils in passenger cars fell 9.5% to 151,158 tons. Sales of engine oils used in commercial vehicles declined 6.6% to 52,829 tons. Within the industrial segment, hydraulic oils were down 10% to 70,363 tons, and industrial greases were up 0.3% at 16,927 tons for the year.

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